NASA have revealed details of how they have created an incredibly detailed mixed reality (MR) replica of the International Space Station (ISS) to use when training new astronauts.
The space agency is using Unreal Engine to power a representation of the ISS that can be used by astronauts and engineers alike to do things train in maintenance procedures, design new habitats or work on further engineering development of the station.
As NASA software engineer Matthew Noyes, explains: “NASA is always interested in how cutting-edge technology could help our programmes. Creating a truly immersive experience for astronauts is a lot like creating a game. With Unreal Engine, we’ve created a completely immersive, three-dimensional, mixed reality training and development environment that is incredibly lifelike. In basic terms, that means we can put our crew in space while they’re still on earth. The environments created by Unreal Engine have allowed us to meet many of our training goals. The more realistic your training feels, the faster you can respond in critical real-world situations, which ultimately can save your life.”
The ISS replica is part of a wider use of virtual reality and mixed reality within the space agency. VRFocus previously covered how the virtual reality (VR) videogame experience Earthlight was being used at NASA.
Simon Jones, Director of Unreal Engine Enterprise believes the NASA use of Unreal Engine and VR/MR is just the tip of the iceberg: “Development engineers can look at the execution of detail areas without having to make separate desktop models. Marketing specialists can create visuals before there is a prototype, or customer experiences that pre-sell before production. All of this means that organisations across a range of sectors are now looking at how they can embed VR within their engineering information strategy,” he says. “So what started life as a high-end computer gaming technology has developed to become an application that accelerates innovation, drives new technology and creates incredible new opportunities.”
You can watch a video on the details of NASA’s ISS replica below.
VRFocus will bring you further updates on NASA’s use of VR and MR as it comes in.